Studying Research at Peter Mac

Research degrees provide an opportunity to pursue a specialist area of interest developed during your previous studies or in your career, allowing you to shape the topic of your studies in a unique and distinctive way.

Why do a research degree?

There are many reasons why students undertake a research degree. Common to all students who commence research studies will be aspects of the following:

  • Seeking a challenge. Tackling a new research topic or extending existing research to new levels and directions challenges your work ethic, dedication and analytical thinking.
  • To increase career opportunities. A research degree provides evidence of your ability for independent thought, critical thinking, time and project management, and your knowledge of a specialist area.
  • To make ideas public. You can communicate your research through publications, conferences and other presentations
  • To contribute to society. Discovering new methods, understandings and techniques can be of benefit society and real-world problems.

An important aspect of the Peter Mac education program is the development of a greater awareness of the recent advances and the rapidly changing technologies used in medical research. We provide all students with the opportunity to expand their research knowledge and to develop this awareness, while also developing important transferable skills that will make an important contribution to their future career directions.

Reflections on the research experience

Peter Mac provides a structured yet flexible research education program to meet the varied needs of our research students. Our supportive research environment helps students during their development of the important research and professional skills they need to master as efficient researchers and to make a significant contribution to Peter Mac’s research and, ultimately, to contribute to better patient outcomes.

Our research students – past and present – share their thoughts on their student experience at Peter Mac:

Jirawas Sornkom, PhD student, Oncogenic Signalling and Growth Control Program. Recipient of an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship & CTx Top-up Scholarship

“My very first impression of Peter Mac even before I thought about the project was how there is a well-structured education and recruitment program for students, described on the website. It’s very important and also encouraging to have project outlines, so students from the other side of the world know what people are currently doing and, more importantly, which researchers are recruiting students here.”

Jirawas came to Australia after completing her Master of Biomedical Science at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and quickly took charge of her project targeting ribosome biogenesis in acute myeloid leukaemia. During her PhD, Jirawas has made an important contribution to the education program at Peter Mac by taking a leadership role in the 2014 Postgraduate Student Society and helping coordinate the annual student retreat and other education and social activities in support of the students.

Dr Glen Guerra, Surgeon and PhD student, Cancer Biology & Surgical Oncology Laboratory. Recipient of Royal Australian College of Surgeons PhD Scholarship and Cancer Therapeutics Top-up Scholarship

“During my surgical training at Peter Mac, I was exposed to the unique structure and environment of this institution, which attracted me to return to undertake a PhD. In the short period of time since commencing my research, I have been warmly welcomed and supported, mirroring my experience as a clinician and ensuring a firm start to my PhD.”

Glen is one of our growing number of young clinicians undertaking research degrees at Peter Mac. He was attracted to the dynamic work environment that is fostered by the close collaboration between the research and clinical divisions, facilitated by their co-location. This environment produces high-level basic science and clinical research, allows the greatest potential for the evolution of translational research, and is supporting Glen in his aim to be actively involved in working towards improved patient outcomes.

Anna Tirgos Gomez, PhD student, Bioinformatics & Cancer Genomics Laboratory. Recipient of a Melbourne International Engagement PhD Award and a Cancer Therapeutics Top-up Scholarship

As an international student from Venezuela, I was concerned about covering my tuition fees and living expenses in Australia. The scholarships awarded by the University of Melbourne have been the key to pursuing my PhD in Peter Mac.”

Anna completed her Master of Bioinformatics at the University of Melbourne, conducting her research placement at Peter Mac. She commenced her PhD in 2015, attracted to Peter Mac by the multidisciplinary projects and supervisory teams offered in their programs. Her PhD uses bioinformatics techniques to address cancer biology questions, obtaining high-level and systems perspectives of the alterations in cancer.

Shunfei Yan, PhD student, PhD student, Cancer Signalling Laboratory. Recipient of a China Scholarship Council PhD Scholarship

‘‘I have always dreamed of inventing some drugs to cure cancer since I was a kid. The VCFG in Peter Mac is bringing my childhood dream into reality.”

Shunfei Yan came to Peter Mac after completing a master's degree in China. Peter Mac’s reputation as an origin of cancer therapies was a key factor in attracting Shunfei to undertake his PhD in the Oncogenic Signalling and Growth Control program. Access to Peter Mac’s sophisticated equipment allowed Shunfei to define the alterations in the mRNA translation profile induced by novel therapies targeting ribosome biogenesis and function.

Read more from our current and past research students.